With all the demands of running a company, sometimes it's hard to find time for sleep, much less time for cooking or meal planning. Wolfing down a box of takeout in front of desk is a fact of life for a lot of busy entrepreneurs. But many popular takeout items can leave you feeling foggy or tired in the afternoon. You can fix that by upgrading your takeout.
There are a few key ingredients you need to look for when you are grabbing a quick lunch to go. For long-lasting energy and a greater sense of satiety, your meals should contain protein, such as chicken or fish. Additionally, you need complex carbohydrates, such as beans, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. When you digest complex carbs, they convert to glucose, which fuels your body and powers your brain. These complex carbs also help create glycogen, a type of glucose that gets stored in your liver and in your muscles. Glycogen is emergency fuel your body taps when it's low on glucose (such as when you skip meals). This energy reserve is especially important for entrepreneurs, because the more decisions you make, the more glucose you use.
But stay away from processed carbs, such as bread, pizza, and pasta. Processed carbs spike your blood sugar levels--only to have them come crashing down soon after, which leaves you feeling logy and unfocused. Instead, look for takeout options that offer healthy, more sustainable fuel, like these four lunches below:
1. A big salad
Start with a lean protein, such as chicken or fish, and load up your salad with assorted greens, carrots, tomatoes, roasted vegetables. Add chickpeas (or another type of bean) and pumpkin seeds. Then, dress it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This salad has lots of fiber and protein to help keep you fueled and focused. The beans provide quality carbs.
Where to order: Custom-made salads are popular and are fairly easy to find. Try Café Metro or Europa Café. Or order from a diner. If you work in New York City, check out Chop’t.
2. Soup and a side salad
Soup is filling and hearty. Choose lentil or bean based soups, such as chili, which contain complex carbs. Avoid creamy soups that just pack on the calories or noodle soups that tend to be all noodle (those are processed carbs, which can make you feel foggy later in the afternoon). Have a small salad with your soup or save it for an afternoon snack.
Where to order: Grocery stores such as Whole Food are a good place to get both soup and salad. If you're in New York City, another good option is Hale and Hearty.
3. Assorted sushi
Sushi is great for grazers who find it difficult to get through an entire meal without getting pulled into a meeting or other. In addition to fish rolls, order some vegetarian rolls, which often contain avocado, cucumber, asparagus, and other vegetables. Veggie rolls tend to be larger than the fish rolls and more filling. Upgrade your rice to brown rice, which provides longer-lasting energy than white rice.
Where to order: Available at Japanese restaurants and grocery stores such as Whole Foods.
4. Grilled chicken platter
Want a hearty lunch? Order grilled chicken, with sides such as brown rice or sweet potatoes and vegetables such as spinach or broccoli. (Pass on the bread rolls and fried food, which will make you feel sluggish later in the afternoon.)
Where to order: Try Energy Kitchen, which has several locations along the East Coast. Diners are another good option.
Grab one of these quick, energy-boosting lunches, and you just might be as productive in the afternoon as you are in the morning.